Mirror Image

By SyberJedi with lots of imput from Unit One

Chapter One

Starbuck stretched as he woke up. His head was fuzzy not recalling right off where he had been before he passed out. However, as soon as he did, he bolted upright into a sitting position. A brief sharp pain lanced through his head due to the brightness of the lighting, causing him to clutch at it, and moan. Starbuck's eyes screwed themselves shut in an attempt to block it out.

"I suggest that you lay back down, Lieutenent." A vaguely familar voice informed the blonde.

"Why should I?" Starbuck asked. He tried opening his eyes again, at a slower rate this time, giving himself a chance to adapt.

"Well, it would help with the headache for one thing." The voice answered.

Starbuck's eyes were fully open, taking in his surroundings, and the changes in his uniform. Everything was white.

"Oh no, not you all again." Starbuck sighed. He then looked over at the man who had talked to him. "You're John, correct?"

"I see that you remember me." John answered.

"Well, you are kind of hard to forget, especially after what all happened on Terra. Where's Apollo?"

"He's on the Galactica. While he did well on the mission that we had given him, Apollo is not needed this time around. You are." John stated.

"Why am I needed? And what kind of mission? I'm needed back on the Galactica. They can't afford to lose pilots." The Lieutenent retorted.

"The mission is only one that you can do, for various reasons. Your abilities besides those of being a Warrior along with them. Also, your appearance is a factor. An extremely important factor at that." John supplied.

"My appearance?" Starbuck asked, confused. "What would my appearance have to do with me being capable of undertaking a mission? I can understand my abilities as a Warrior, and as a gambler and such. Even without knowing what this mission is. Speaking of which, what is the mission?"

"Your mission is for you to recon areas on Earth for your people to establish settlements on, without being discovered by the various authorities on Earth." John explained, begining the briefing. "As for why your appearance being important, it's because of the fact that there is a man on Earth that is your identical twin appearance wise. And you are going to be taking his place for a while."

Starbuck looked at John in shock. "You mean to say that there is someone that could pass as my twin brother?"

It then dawned on Starbuck that John had stated that he was going to Earth.

"What do you mean I'm going to Earth? The Galactica hasn't discovered any traces that we're drawing close."

"Not as yet, no. It won't be too much longer before such discoveries are made, however." John answered. "That's not important though, Lieutenent. What is important is that you be able to pass yourself off as this other man."

"What's so important about this other man that I have to take over as him?" Starbuck wanted to know.

"His current freedom and status in the society in which he lives is." John stated. He started filling Starbuck in. "The man is an escaped convicted fugitive, innocent of the crimes which has placed against his unit and him. They're hiring themselves out as mercenaries. However, they're not typical mercenaries. They screen their clients, only accepting jobs if the client proves that they have a serious problem that can not be resolved through regular means, and are not an obvious set up for a trap by the military. The unit will take on clients who can't afford to meet their price, usually taking a small percentage of ownership if a business instead. Also, they do work for free."

Starbuck listened to the data, picking up on key words.

"Okay, I noticed you used the term unit and military." Starbuck pointed out the two words that drew his attention.

John nodded. "Yes. They're a former military unit, and are on the run from the military. Special Forces unit to be exact."

"Now I see why you needed a Warrior for this mission." Starbuck shifted his position. Then he asked, in a sarcastic voice, "Going to tell me anything about them?"

"It would be pointless for the whole mission if I did not." John answered, ignoring the Lieutenent's tone of voice. "The unit is known as the A-Team, and consists of four members. The military is only after three of them, however. The fourth member was declared to be insane, and was admitted to a medical facility. The commander of the A-Team is one Lieutenent Colonel John Smith, also known as Hannibal. He's a brilliant and highly unusual tactician and strategist. Next is Sargeant Bosco "B.A." Baracus. The B.A. is short for Bad Attitude. He's the team's mechanic and heavy muscle. After him is Captain H.M. Murdock. The H.M. as near as can be determined, stands for Howling Mad. He's the pilot for the team, and pretty good elsewhere as well. He's also the one who was declared insane. Last, and the most important member of the team- Lieutenent Templeton Peck alias The Faceman, or Face for short. Face is the second in command of the team, also being their supply officer, sniper and bookkeeper. Along with that, the man is a con artist and an extremely good one at that. He's also a gambler, a womanizer, and extremely skilled at picking locks."

As John told Starbuck about each member of this unit, a small three dimentional image of each man appeared. It started off with a head and shoulders shot, then adjusted to a full body image. Starbuck's expression was slightly stunned when he saw the image of Face. John laughed briefly.

"Your appearance and abilities are not the only things you have in common with Face, Starbuck." John continued. "Like you, Face grew up an orphan with no memory of his parents or early childhood. However, that is where the simularities end. Face was raised in a religious orphanage. He attended collage for a couple of yarhens, before dropping out and enlisting in the military. Also, he is not a pilot."

"Still, it's hard to believe. He looks a bit younger than me." Starbuck pointed out.

"That is a minor detail and easily resolved." John waved off the problem. "At the moment, you have other things that are more important to be concerned with. The primary one being that you need to learn a language called English, and become fluent in it. You also will need to develop a small vocabulary in a language known as Vietnamese. And you have to learn how to answer to being called Face. How good are you with numbers?"

"Well, I am a gambler, so I can certainly say that I can hold my own when it comes to numbers." Starbuck grinned.
"Good. Let's get started then on the English lessons." John decided. "You have a lot to learn in the amount of time we have available to us. Luckily, with some of it, you can learn it through sleep study."

Starbuck looked at John sharply when he said that. "What do you mean by that?"

"Starbuck, you need to be as fluent in speaking English, as though you had grown up on Earth in the areas where that language is spoken. You also have to be able to read and write it as well. It has to be ingrained nature to you to speak it, to the point where you even think in English. You will have to be able to react in English without having to translate what you are going to say in your head first." John explained. "Your life will be depending on it."

"Let's get started then." Starbuck sighed. He wasn't liking the situation he was in, but he had no choice in the matter.

John started the lessons, including starting to address Starbuck by the names Face, Tem, and Peck, or as Lieutenent.

John and Starbuck worked for several, long hours, only stopping to allow Starbuck to eat, relieve himself, and to stretch. Finally, it got to the point where the Lieutenent couldn't keep his eyes open anymore.

"Hey John, I don't know about you, but I need some sleep." Starbuck yawned. He stood up, raising his arms over his head.

"Very well." John answered, also getting to his feet. "I'll see you when you wake up."

Starbuck curled up on the padded bench that he had originally had woken up on, using his jacket as a blanket, as best as he could. He briefly wished that he was back on the Galactica, in his bunk. Things were too quiet for his comfort, since Starbuck was long accustomed to not being alone. Still, it did not take long for the pilot to drift off to sleep.
John quietly watched the sleeping pilot from a concealed spot not too far.

"I don't like this." John said. "I know there's no choice in the matter. I still don't have to like it"
John looked slightly upwards.

"Lieutenent Starbuck is going to be in for a suprise to find out that 5 yahrens or years have gone by, without him living hardly any of that time. And he's not going to like that fact either." John declared. "That time missing from his life could cause him problems when he finally does return to the Galactica."

A displeased expression crossed John's face.

"And that's another thing. Something needs to be set up for Face while Starbuck is impersonating him. It's not like we can keep him here." John paused, before continuing. "Why not send him to the Galactica, after giving him the Colonial language. It would only be right. It would give Captain Apollo and the rest of Starbuck's people hope that Starbuck is still alive. Also, they can get useful information about what they will discover on Earth when they reach it. At least we won't have to prepare him to pose as Starbuck."

John sighed, shook his head, then looked back up.

"Thank you for seeing my point."

When Starbuck woke up, he could not quite believe all the information that kept filling his mind. Information concerning participles, verbs, adverbs, pronouncation, definitions crowded his thoughts.

"Good morning Lieutenent." John said in English, smiling. "Ready for breakfast?"

"Hello John. I sure am." Starbuck replied, also in English. A suprised expression crossed his face. "That was unexpected."

John laughed. "I'm sure it was. But that's how it has to be."

Starbuck nodded in agreement while he chose what he wanted to eat. "So, how long do you think this mission of mine is going to take?"

"Unknown. It is going to take several months, sectares to use a standard of time you're familar with, if not longer. Most likely it will take at least a year, yarhen, or more."

"That long?" Starbuck asked, his tone growning angry. "What about my friends that I left back on the Galactica? They're going to think I'm dead."

"I'm sorry, Lieutenent, but it can not he helped." John tried to soothe the pilot. "I can promise you this, they will know that you are not dead. I can not reveal how they will know it, or when they will, just that they will. And I can promise you that you will be reunited with them. That's the best that I can do."

"I guess that I'll have to accept it then." Starbuck sighed. He hated being put into circumstances where he had no control over what happened to him or over the situation. Granted, he often did not get a say over assignments back on the Galactica but that was something different, since he chose to become a Colonial Warrior in the first place. Starbuck sat down and ate his breakfast.

"Time to get started with the next set of lessons." John declared, once breakfast was over. Starbuck agreed and the two men got to work.

Over the next sectare, or month as Starbuck learned to call it, the Lieutenent became fluent in speaking English. He also learned more details about the members of the A-Team, especially the man known as Face. However, unknown to Starbuck, what seemed to be a month going by from his perspective was in all actuallity, a total of five years. Five years in which Starbuck did not physically age.

Apollo walked into his quarters carrying a box that was half full of items. He looked into it, not really believing that it contained all of Starbuck's personal possessions. It was less than what he was expecting, a few likenesses, a couple of books, and some momentos. The box was carefully stored away since Apollo was of the belief that his best friend was still alive. The way that Starbuck had disappeared was familar to him. It reminded Apollo of the time when he was 'recruited' for a mission on Terra by the White Light ships. Starbuck had come after him, and the Galactica had followed to rescue them both. Apollo knew that the situation was different because he couldn't find a trace of his friend's fighter.
But that did not stop him from believing that he would see Starbuck again.

Meanwhile, elsewhere...5 yahrens/years later...

Templeton Peck, aka the Faceman, woke up to a typical morning for him. A beautiful raven haired woman curled along side of him, since he had spent the night at her place. The phone rang, causing the sandy blonde to groan.

"Hello." Face heard the woman's sultry voice say softly, as she answered her phone. He climbed out of bed, and pulled on his pants. She looked at him, a questioning expression on her face.

"Aerin, I'm going to go make some coffee." Face whispered to her. The woman nodded, giving him a thankful smile. The Lieutenent made his way into the kitchen, and started setting up the coffee pot. Within a matter of minutes the fragrant beverage was brewing.

"That smells heavenly Randy." Aerin stated, as she walked into the kitchen. "Sorry about the phone waking you up."

"It's alright. It worked out well anyways since I need to get an early start." Face answered. Randy was his current alias at the moment.

"You did warn me about needing to be up and out early. I wish you didn't have to go overseas for so long though." Aerin sighed.

"I wish I didn't have to go. But the company needs me in Tokyo. They have it all set up for me to fly out later today to Japan." Face lied, in a very convincing manor. "Six months to a year, at least."

Aerin nodded, her expression glum. She drank her coffee, watching "Randy" savor his own cup. Once he finished a second cup, Face stood up.

"I guess I should get my things together, and head on out. I have a lot to do before I'm due in at the airport." Face stated.

"Alright. Look me up when you get back to the States, if possible." Aerin replied, finishing her own cup. "I need to get ready for work. I would gladly see you off otherwise."

"I understand. As for looking you up, sure. When I get back. If only as friends." Face gave Aerin a kiss, and gathered his things. "Take care of yourself Aerin."

"You too, Randy. Have a safe flight." Aerin hugged Face. The Lieutenent then grabbed up his bag, and left the appartment.

Once outside, on the sidewalk, Face noted his location and smiled. He was supposed to be meeting Hannibal and B.A. at a park that was nearby. The day was warm and sunny, so Tem decided to walk to the park. Unfortunantly for the fugitive Lieutenent, Colonel Decker and his MPs were in the area, hunting for the A-Team.

"Sir, isn't that Peck over there?" Crane asked, pointing out the window of the military sedan.

"Why yes it is, Captain." Decker replied. "And he's alone and on foot. There's no way he can avoid capture now."

Crane wisely chose not to comment to that remark. He watched as his CO pulled out his weapon, and lean out the window.

"Templeton Peck, you are hereby ordered to freeze, and give yourself up." Decker yelled out, aiming his gun at the younger man. "If you do not, I WILL open fire."

Face turned in the direction from which Decker's voice came from.

"Shit!" the blonde exclaimed. "Hannibal is going to skin me for this." And with that, Face turned in the opposite direction from what he had been heading in, and broke into a run.

"After him!" Decker ordered Crane.

"Yes Sir." Crane replied, automaticly responding to the order. The olive green sedan did a one-eighty in the middle of the road causing tires to squeal and civillian cars to swerve out of the way. The Colonel leaned farther out the window, and began firing his gun.

Face was thankful that it was still early, but only because it meant that there were fewer chances of civillian casualties. However, it also made it harder for the blonde to vanish into the crowds and escape. He didn't give up though. Face kept running, and spotted an alley that might help him lose his pursuers. He headed for it as fast as he could go. "Give it up Peck!" Decker's voice cried out.

Face didn't hesitate and darted into the alley. Bits of brick flew at him, as a bullet impacted into the building. The Lieutenent winced, but kept going. He knew that the MPs had seen where he had gone. He just hoped that it wasn't a trap. White light started filling the alley, causing Face to slow. He began to turn, trying to find the source of the light. Fear etched across his face, filling the blue eyes. Suddenly, a high pitched whine could be heard, raising in intensity. Face quickly brought his hands over his ears, trying to block the piercing pitch. His head kept turning from side to side, a trapped animal looking for an escape. The light grew brighter and more intense, then it finally brought darkness with it, as Face blacked out. If there had been anyone in the alley, they would have seen Templeton Peck vanish without a trace.

On the Light Ship, Starbuck was getting ready for his mission to start. He had been given a new set of clothing, which would allow him to fit in where he was going.

"I'm keeping my flight jacket." Starbuck informed John. "And my flight helm." He placed his helm into a duffel, then laid his white jacket over it.

"Lieutenent, those items will give you away." John protested.

"The jacket shouldn't. How different can it be from some found on Earth? As for my helm, I can leave it in my duffle bag. Besides, if they get a look at my personal communicator, they're going to be able to tell that it's not from anywhere on Earth. And you can't stop me from taking it, since I'll need it to eventually establish contact with the Galactica. At least I'm leaving my laser behind. Speaking of which, where is my kit bag?" Starbuck looked around.

"Here." John handed the other man the item he was looking for. "Something else you would be better off not taking with you."

Starbuck sent a glare towards John. "Thank you. As for what I'm taking with me, I have my reasons, and that includes my kit. Besides, I really don't relish the idea of using Face's brush, shaver, or other personal grooming effects. It's bad enough that I'm going to have to wear his clothes. Not that I can wear my own."

"Once you are on Earth, you are on your own. We can not intervene, unless your life is at stake." John said the last of the information. "You will not be killed while on this mission. It is too vital. Your jacket will turn white if you are in the presence of myself, or others like me. If that happens, you must follow the instructions you are given. Any deviation from them could result in your death, if only temporarily."

"Well, you just answered a question before I could even ask it." Starbuck remarked. "Well, I'm ready. Anything else I need to know?"

"Actually, yes. When we pulled Lieutenent Peck out, he was being pursued, and fired apon. So there stands a good chance of you being captured when you arrive, or being injured." John answered. "Good luck."

"Thanks, I'm going to need it." Starbuck sighed. "So, do what ever it is that you do to get me where I need to be."

"Alright." John agreed.

Starbuck blinked. When he opened his eyes, he found himself not where he expected to be. But then again, he also did not know what to expect when it came to his arrival on Earth. The Lieutenent spun around once, quickly taking in his surroundings. His nose wrinkled up, due to the smell and the mess in the alley he found himself in. Flashing lights and the sounds of sirens going caught his attention. Starbuck noted that they were coming towards his position.

"Lieutenent Peck, give yourself up!" A harsh voice yelled. It was quickly followed by the deafening sounds of projectiles being fired.

"Frack!" Starbuck muttered to himself, in his native language. "I got to get out of here."

Starbuck quickly decided that he wanted a look at the people who were trying to capture Face, now him. He began to run, heading towards the olive green grounds transport that was coming his way. A determined expression settled on his face, as the Colonial Warrior picked up speed.

"Colonel, what is he doing?" Captain Crane asked. "This is totally unlike Peck at all from past experience."

"Agreed. I have no idea what is going through Peck's mind." Decker concured with his subordinate. "If he was in a vehicle, I would say he was planning to ram us."

"As it stands Sir, we're going to hit him." Crane didn't stop though. If Peck wanted to play chicken, he was willing to as well.

Starbuck, with perfect timing honed by years of fighting Cylons and playing Triad, spiked his duffle bag up and forwards at the windshield of the oncoming vehicle. Then, just before the sedan could hit him, Starbuck jumped up and forward, slapping his hands down onto the hood of the car. Using the kinetic motion to propel himself up and forward, onto the hood of the car. He tucked his knees up and rolled forward, coming to his feet just before he hit the windshield. He grinned at the occupants of the convayance enjoying their stunned expressions, as he leapt up to the roof, snagging his duffle as it was dropping down.

"Gods, I wish Apollo and Boomer could have seen that move." Starbuck exulted, as he ran across the top of the vehicle and jumped off the rear of it. He paused only for a moment, just enough to keep on his feet. He adjusted the duffle, tucking it under his right arm, and kept on running.

Crane hit the brakes once he felt the spring of the Lieutenent jumping off the end, turning the steering wheel to bring the car around in a tight 180 degree turn.

"Now that was insane." The young Captain muttered. Without being told, he then hit the accelerator and returned to the chase. Decker nodded in agreement.

Over in the park where Face was supposed to meet up with the rest of the team, Hannibal kept checking his watch, wondering where his Lieutenent was.

"I don't know why Facey isn't here, Hannibal." Murdock stated. "He said he would be here on time."

"We'll give him another 10 minutes, then we'll go look for him." Hannibal decided.

Murdock nodded. "I'll go let BA know."

Before the Captain could go over to where the gold laden man stood keeping guard, the sounds of gun fire reached them. The big black man whirled, looking back towards his CO and teammate. Hannibal nodded, opening the van door and climbing in. BA broke into a run, making his way over to the driver's side of the van. Murdock climbed into the back, pulling the sliding door closed.

"Well, I think I know why Face is late." Hannibal pulled on his black gloves. "I just wonder what kind of trouble he's in."

"Sirens Colonel." Murdock pointed out another sound. "I betcha that it's Decker."

"Sorry Murdock, but that's one bet I won't take, since I happen to agree with you." The white haired Colonel agreed. "BA, lets go rescue Face."

BA didn't say anything in reply, just gunned the engine of his van and took off out of the park. It did not even take them five minutes before the team found the basic area where Face was. The sounds of sirens beckoned to them.

"Colonel, look. There goes Face into that alleyway." Murdock pointed.

"BA, head towards there. Maybe we can get to the other side of the alley before Decker and his cronies realize we're also here." Hannibal instructed.

At that moment, Starbuck came racing out of the alley, pulling his stunt with Decker and Crane.

"What's that fool doin' Hannibal?" BA growled. "He's crazier than the fool here."

"I don't know BA." Hannibal frowned, before breaking into a smile. "Still, I would have loved to have seen the expression on Decker's face when he saw Face pull that. Murdock, get the door open."

"Already moving, Colonel." The sound of the side door opening could be heard.

Hannibal lowered his window, and leaned out. "FACE! OVER HERE!" He yelled.

Starbuck heard the cry of Face, and looked towards where it originated from. He spotted the black conveyance that had a red stripe detail to it. A somewhat familar looking man leaned out the window in the front, while another was in an opening and waving. The sandy blonde Lieutenent started running in that direction.

"MOVE IT LIEUTENENT!" Hannibal ordered, trying to get the blonde to speed up. The sounds of gun fire was loud in his ears, but none of it came from the van.

Murdock remained in the open doorway, an M16 in one hand. He was ready to give cover fire to help Face reach the van as soon as the younger man was out of the line of fire. "Come on Face." The pilot murmured to himself. "Decker's getting closer."

Decker's eyes narrowed, as he sighted in on the running man. He knew that Peck was trying to reach the rest of his team, who had appeared just a moment before. "You're mine now Peck." The Army Colonel growled, as he pulled the trigger. The sound of more shots being fired filled the air.

Starbuck was almost to the vehicle, when he felt a searing pain lance along the left side of his head. He stumbled, fighting to remain on his feet and running. He brought his left hand up, carefully feeling the side of his scalp. When he brought his hand down, Starbuck saw red covering his hand. Blood. The sound of another shot being fired caused him to wince. Next thing that the extraterrestial human felt was white hot agony crossing along his left leg, quickly followed by the sensation of falling.

"Colonel, Face is down." Murdock cried out, disgarding his weapon before leaping from the van. "I'm going to get him."

The lanky pilot rushed over to his downed friend, and helped him up. "Come on Face, I've gotcha. We won't let anything else happen to ya."

Starbuck felt himself being pulled to his feet. His head throbbed in time with the injured leg. The Colonial Warrior fought to remain conscious, his thoughts hazy. He tried to recall what exactly it was that he was supposed to be doing, as he looked at Murdock. For some reason, he was supposed to know this man, but his mind refused to work as it should. Hannibal helped the Captain pull the wounded blonde into the van, slamming the door shut once his feet were clear.

"Go BA!" was the orders given. The van sped off.

"Do I know you?" Starbuck asked, as darkness overcame him.

Murdock looked over at Hannibal, fear and concern fighting each other on his face.

Crane brought the sedan to a stop, and then followed Decker out of the vehicle. The Colonel made his way over to where Face had fallen. He knelt down, and looked over the pavement. Giving a brief nod, the older man stood.

"What is it Sir?" Crane asked.

"Peck is wounded, in two different places." Decker answered. He pointed at the two different blood covered spots.

"Want me to order out teams to start cordoning off the hospitals, Sir?"

"Yes. We might get lucky. Depends on how serious Peck's injuries are."

"Yes Sir." Captain Crane returned to the car, and and got started.

"Damn it all to hell." Deckered murmured. He then also returned to the sedan.

Hannibal and Murdock treated Starbuck's wounds as best as they could. Once they made sure that the younger man wasn't in any serious danger of bleeding out, they both went to their respective seats and buckled in.

"How bad is he, Hannibal?" BA asked, concerned.

"His scalp and his left leg were both grazed." Hannibal answered. "After we make sure that we've lost Decker, head for Bad Rock. Face is going to need medical attention. He didn't reconize Murdock when he pulled Face in."

"You thinkin' he might have a concussion?"

"I'm pretty sure of that. I'm more concerned that he might be dealing with a case of amnesia." Hannibal frowned.

"Hannibal, if that's the case, we're going to have to go to ground for a while." Murdock pointed out.

"I know."

Elsewhere...

All was quiet at the moment on the bridge of the Galactica. The patrols were out, making sure that the fleet was secure. It was just how Flag Colonel Tigh prefered a duty shift to run. Commander Adama was in his office, overseeing the day to day logistics of the fleet as a whole. Captains Athena and Omega were at the long range scanner station, the tall man leaning over the woman's shoulder to look at the screen. Lieutenent Rigel was manning Core Control. Others were in their proper positions. Tigh knew that it was not going to last. It never did.

"Colonel, long range scanners are picking something up." Athena's voice called out. Tigh sighed, realising that the quietness that he was enjoying was now over. He made his way over to her station. Omega drew back, giving the older man room.

"Any indications as to what it could be yet?" Tigh asked.

"Not as yet. It's too far away. All we're getting is that something is out there, and it's coming towards us." Athena answered.

"Sir, Ensigns Troy and Dillon are on patrol in that general area." Rigel chimed in, alerting the Colonel. "Major Apollo and Strike Captain Boomer are on standby. We can scramble them in a micron, Colonel."

"No, not yet. I want more of an idea on what we might be dealing with first." Tigh decided. "However, do alert Troy and Dillon about what's going on. Have them check into it."

Rigel responded with a "Yes Sir." and busied herself following her orders.

Athena activated the Warbook, so it would be ready to start running comparisons as soon as the unknown craft was within range. A couple of centari later, the Warbook started running comparisons. It quickly came to a stop, displaying the ship type.

"Lieutenent Rigel, scramble Apollo and Boomer." Tigh ordered.

Down in the Wing Leader's office just off the pilots' ready room, Apollo and Boomer were going over various flight reports and other paperwork. A flashing light caught the attention of both men. In perfect unison they rose, grabbing up helms before heading to their respective Vipers.

"Now that's what I call perfect timing." Boomer commented to his friend and wingman. "That was getting boring."

"I can't disagree with you about that, Boomer." Apollo agreed, "Let's go find out what's going on."

Both men climbed into their fighters, pulled on their helms, and prepared for launch.

"Blue Scramble, you are cleared for launch when ready." Rigel's voice informed both men over the communications system.

"Blue One launching." Apollo responded, his actions matching his words. His body was thrown back against his seat, as the acceleration pushed his ship forward out into the stars.

"Blue Two launching." Boomer followed suit.

"Take vector heading three mark five." Rigel directed them. The two Vipers gracefully swooped upwards and towards the direction that their base ship was going in.

"Colonel, why the scramble?" Apollo asked, once they were established on their course setting. "Troy and Dillon didn't encounter anything potentially hostile, did they?"

"No." Tigh answered. "Apollo, there's an incoming craft coming in on that vector. Troy and Dillon are nearby, on a slightly different heading. They're also approaching the ship."

"Apollo, the Warbook identifies the craft as a Colonial Viper." Athena's voice cut in. "We don't have any MIA Vipers at the moment, except..."

"Starbuck." Apollo said, in a voice barely audible. Hope and grief warred within him. However, uncertainty was also gaining ground.

"That doesn't make sense. If it's Starbuck's Viper, it's coming from the wrong direction." Boomer joined in the coversation. "The area of space where he went missing from is five yahrens behind us."

"Ensigns Troy and Dillon, how long before you make visual contact?" Apollo asked his son and wingman.

"Already have, Sir." Troy answered. "We haven't closed in though, to see who is inside. There hasn't been any attempt at communication though."

"Don't go any closer. Just incase it's a trap of some kind." Apollo ordered.

"We'll have a retrieval shuttle ready within five centari." Tigh cut in. "If it isn't a trap, it will be on it's way as soon as you give the go ahead."

"Thank you Colonel." Apollo replied.

"Galactica out." Athena stated, before going quiet.

"Converging on the Viper's position." Boomer informed everyone. "I see our wayward ship."

Apollo looked around, visually locating the wing pair belonging to his son.

"Let's close in Boomer, and see if the occupant is Starbuck. Troy, Dillon, hold position. Be ready though." were the directions that were issued from the Major.

The two veteran pilots brought their ships in closer to the single Viper. Close enough to be able to see the pilot inside.

"It's Starbuck." Apollo cried out. "He's not wearing a helm, and looks to be unconsious. But it's him, as far as I can tell."

"Retrieval shuttle is on it's way." Athena's voice informed the pilots a micron later.

"Ensigns, you will escort the shuttle back to the Galactica along with Blue Scramble." Tigh's voice ordered. "Medical will be standing by when you arrive. Galactica out."

It took the better part of two centons for the shuttle to arrive, retrieve Starbuck's Viper, and the group of them to return to the Galactica. The shuttle with it's Viper in tow landed first. The remaining four fighters then each set down within the landing bay. As soon as Apollo had his canopy raised, he leaped out of the ship, and was headed over to where the techs were popping the canopy on Starbuck's Viper. Commander Adama was waiting for his son, keeping him from going too close.

"Apollo, we have to be certain that there is nothing wrong with Starbuck, and that he hasn't picked up any illnesses that could have ill affect on the rest of us." Adama reminded the younger man. "Doctor Ias will let us know when we can see him."

At that moment, the medtechs pulled Face out of the Viper's cockpit, and eased him onto a gurney. They took him into decon, before heading to the Life Center. Apollo and Adama watched the group the entire time, noting the alien clothing that the unconsious man was wearing. A Viper tech then walked over to them, and handed a small carryall to the Major.

"Sir, this was found in the Viper. It was in Starbuck's lap." The lady tech stated.

"Thank you Dida. I'll make sure that he gets it." Apollo replied. After Dida left, he and Adama went through decon, leaving the landing bay behind.

TBC...